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[ Baguio City ] Palace warns reclaiming Dominican property


Friday, May 29, 2009 [ sunstar.com.ph ]


AS TWO groups are fighting over the Dominical Hill property, threats that the property will be taken back by Malacañang is a possibility.

This brought Acting Mayor Daniel Fariñas to convene members of the City Council, the Baguio Centennial Commission (CenteCom) and the Baguio Mining Museum so they can discuss how to address the issue, now that Presidential Management Staff (PMS) head Secretary Hermogenes Esperon informed city officials of its plans to reclaim property from the hands of the city.


The city’s failure to implement “Annex A” forced the PMS to remind that last April was the expiration of the five-year period within which development and restoration should have been implemented.

Annex A is supposed to contain Diplomat’s restoration plan. Not one among the members of the CenteComm, Mining Museum and the council, however, are aware of what and where Annex A is.

A recent visit by the National Historical Institute revealed the only restoration done is the installation of fences and galvanized iron sheet.

One member of the Mining Museum, Maria Isabel Ongpin said there is hardly any restoration done in the area. She likewise criticized the use of the area for religious purposes.

Councilor Galo Weygan, who, for several years now, has been pushing for use of the Diplomat property as Prayer Mountain and Heritage Hill has opposed the Mining Museum’s request for the city to cede 1.5 hectares, saying this not what God intended the area to be.

The council earlier passed a resolution maintaining only 1,000 square meters can be occupied by the museum.

He also accused members of the Mining Museum foundation, through its chairman Ambassador Delia Albert of pressuring Malacañang to take back the property because its request for 1.5 hectares was not given upon by the Council.

However, Ongpin said the property should not be used for religious purposes. She said it is a violation of the Constitution as functions of the Church and the State should be separate.

“We reiterate we want to work with the City Government,” Ongpin said and confirmed the group went to Malacañang to discuss about the property.

However, she said it was not the intention of the group to antagonize city officials.

Some members of the council earlier took offense on Malacañang’s “threat” to get back the property.

In a meeting, Councilor Nicasio Palaganas said there is no truth to claims that nothing has been done in the area. He said P8.5 million has been allotted for the area’s restoration.

Weygan said only P300,000 have been spent so far.

The proposed museum has four components. One focuses on showcasing the mining industry of Benguet, another is on the city’s jewels industry, third is a historical visit of Baguio’s past officials and people who helped develop the city and the fourth will be the establishment of a cultural cum events center.

The Baguio Centecom, meanwhile, advised an agreement has to be reached between the city and members of the mine museum.

Commissioner Edilberto Tenefrancia said both should decide for the benefit of Baguio.

The inauguration of the mining museum is planned to be a part of the city’s centennial, but because of the delay, only a portion of the building would be built in time for September 1.

At the moment however, it is unsure if the council would take back its earlier position.

“The problem is the Council appears convinced only 1,000 square meters should be given for the museum,” Fariñas said. (RO)
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